Australian materials company, Quickstep Holdings is collaborating in a European program to study the use of nanotechnology in enhancing the properties of composites deployed in the transportation sector. The project is being undertaken by the company’s German subsidiary, Quickstep.
It will research the introduction of carbon nanotubes into host composites that could enhance properties such as electrical conductivity and inter-laminar strength, which is a problem in the aerospace sector. Aircraft should be protected against electromagnetic interference and lightning, but due to the low conductivity of conventional carbon fibre materials, composite aerospace parts should be covered by a metallic net. This makes the aircraft heavier without adding to the structure. Carbon nanotubes enhance electrical conductivity of composites thereby leading to reduction or removing the metallic mesh.
Trains also need enhanced electrical conductivity to resist electrostatic load, lightning strikes and damaged overhead electricity wires falling on a train coach.
The research will study the development of composites filled with carbon nanotubes for out-of-autoclave composite development technologies, including the Quickstep Process.
Other collaborators include 16 organisations such as research institutes, SME vendors and multi-national industrial transport end-users. The organizations include the European Aeronautic Defense & Space Company (EADS), SLCA, a division of the SAFRAN Group, which designs and manufactures composite parts for airliners, aircraft, jets and helicopters, Alstom, a rolling stock and rail transport infrastructure provider, the University of Cambridge and the University of London in the UK, and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; and engineering company, Coexpair, which will serve as the project manager.
The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.